Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It's the small things...

I don't get the opportunity to devour the weekend papers any more these days, usually still rifling through them on the subsequent Wednesday but this past Saturday, I did.

I read the The Times Magazine back to back and finished my tea and toast with Robert Crampton's 'Beta Male' column. It was a brilliant, witty and unpretentious piece on the simple things in life that he takes great pleasure from. My interpretation was that as you get older, it's the little things that really matter and make you happy.

Inspired by Robert here's my list, in no apparent order. By no means exhaustive, it's a start.

Getting a seat on the tube on a journey that lasts longer than five minutes.
Drinking deep, dark rum in an old atmospheric pub and telling the same joke that I feel like a pirate. Pouring all the words that swarm around in my head into my blog and having at least one other person liking it, not counting my amazing Mum. Laughing with friends so hard that you get a pain in your stomach and you say through tears 'stop, please, no more' even though you don’t really want to stop, ever.

Finding an Evening Standard distributor on a Friday night with an ES Magazine and reading it all the way home or, even better, on Saturday morning in bed. Running outside with the wind in my face, music in my ears and feeling as free as a bird (and flipping the bird at men who think it’s hilarious to honk their horns at women exercising). Pretty much anything by Jack Johnson, despite people saying his music is blithe, soft rock and writing unenthusiastic reviews, especially the line in Flake that goes I know she loves the sunrise. No longer sees it with her sleeping eyes which reminds me of endless journeys across New Zealand and filling pages of travel diaries. Big glossy, hot-off-the-press fashion magazines with style and substance that take hours to pore over.
Goats cheese, preferably warm and assembled with roasted vegetables, although a smattering of beetroot is also a winner. When you witness a comedy trip or slip in the street, not one that causes the person an injury, but rather one where the person carries on regardless and you bite your cheeks to stop giggling. Face painting. Aubergines. The smell of paint and just-lit matches.

Random conversations with strangers on the tube that make you proud to be a Londoner, like the one I had with a lady on the Victoria Line last weekend after we both witnessed a grown man openly picking his nose and examining his findings. 'I see men do it all the time, the worst are the wipers' she said with eyes rolled to heaven as we chatted all the way up the escalators and out the station and said goodbye and I got a really nice warm feeling inside and wondered, why can’t we all just get along?

Being by the British seaside. The first and last page of a new book and that incredible, evocative scent. People watching around Redchurch Street, E2 - shorts, a My Little Pony jumper, brogues and a bow tie? Why ever not. Singing loudly, with Mariah Carey patented hand gestures despite not possessing a decent singing voice to accompany them. Being with my nephew Freddie, especially when he looks at me pensively with those big blue eyes, holds my hand, and laughs when I sing I Wanna be Like You from The Jungle Book for the thirteenth time.

Football on a Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday; on the TV, coming out of the radio and in my newspaper. Football chants such as 'is there a fire drill, is there a fire drill...' directed at opposing fans who sneak out early when they're a few goals down. Rhubarb and Custard, in real life and boiled sweet form.
Staring at Van Gogh’s The CafĂ© Terrace on the Place du Forum and getting lost in the starry background and dreaming of drinking red wine in Arles. Getting uninterrupted sleep and exclaiming 'over 8 hours sleep...yeah!' in an I'm really approaching my mid-30s manner. Gravelly, hearty London accents. Walking for hours. The coast and the countryside. Friday post-work drinks - alcohol before 6pm, a fusion of departments and when 'I'm just having 1' turns into 8. Saturday morning, Saturday lunchtime, Saturday night.

The Specsavers advert when the couple mistake a nice comfy bench for a roller coaster, due to insufficient eye wear. Silly, but it's the faces when the photo is taken that gets me every time and reminds me of having your photo taken on the log flume at Chessington World of Adventures and having it made into a keyring for your Mum. Choreographed dance routines in music videos - dramatic hand and head movements, fancy footwork and showing off, alongside a pulsating beat. Reference: Gaga. Going out for dinner - either posh restaurant or the Turkish Okabasi on Bethnal Green Road whose name I won't reveal so you won't take my table.
Receiving handwritten letters, cards, and invitations through the post which you can keep in a big trunk of stuff rather than forward, reply or delete. Getting all dressed up. A rare black cab. Tea brewed in a tea pot, drank from a proper big mug of tea. My parent's house. The cab drivers from Central Cabs in Walthamstow who always wait till you're safely inside and Mick the controller at base who reminds me of my beloved Granddad. Making a list just to take pleasure from crossing things off it. Comedy tube drivers that announce the stations in a song-song way, or wish you a really good day and deserve a medal for services to disgruntled commuters who have lost the will to continue onto Finsbury Park. Saying thank you, and getting a heartfelt 'you're welcome' back.

Teenagers giving up their seats for older people. 2-4-1 face wipes and £5 off Boots No 7 vouchers, providing an opportunity to purchase superfluous mascara which creates Extreme Length and Extravagant Lashes. Coconut, vanilla and cocoa butter scented body lotion. Essentially smelling like a cake, but a happy cake. Being on my own in the house - pottering, eating cereal out of the packet, and listening to obscure playlists on Spotify (Five Star, the soundtrack to Oliver! and Madonna's White Heat - Get up, stand tall. Put your back up against the wall. 'Cause my love is dangerous. This is a bust). Being with Alex in the house.

An open weekend with no plans. Poached eggs and avocado, together. Watching the last two Sex and the City episodes, An American Girl in Paris (partes un et deux) with that beautiful dusty grey Versace Couture dress, the 'I am someone who is looking for love. Real Love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live without-each-other love' line and the Carrie/Big trip in the hotel corridor. Lunchtime drinking. Green and yellow fields flashing by from a train window.

Holidays and weekends away, particularly Day 2 when you're finally detached from your iPhone, Pad and Pod, London is detoxed from your system and time has no concept. Prints. Art postcards. Free Museums. Too many rings at the same time. Swearing. Cider, just 1 pint for me please oh go on then, 2 but that’s it. Reading on the sofa, wrapped up in a warm blanket. Silence. Very loud music (especially when it’s your own and you have chosen it).

A clean-pyjamas-clean-sheet-combo on a Sunday night. A big, enveloping hug that lasts for ages especially if the person is someone you love and smells nice. Being with a bunch of friends and looking around thinking, bloody hell these people are amazing. My husband, always.